The NBA showcases the best athletes in world.  Yes I said it, the best athletes in world.  The strength, quickness, finesse, and leaping ability professional basketball players possess are second to none in the world of pay-for-play athletics.

Even Dan Patrick, respected and former long time anchorman of ESPN’s award-winning sports wrap-up show SportsCenter, admits he “tend[s] to look at basketball players as the best athletes in the world.”  Patrick understands the skill, endurance, and talent it takes for humans the size of Shaquille O’Neal to move up and down a court for roughly 40 minutes a night in an 82 game season.

It is easy to find oneself distracted by the celebrity shenanigans that seem to follow these players due in part to the emergence of a 24-hour sports news cycle.  Most of the cultural dramas that accompany sports in this country dissuade the causal viewer from buying tickets or tuning in and appreciating the athletic feats preformed by these special athletes.

I am sure most people are still not convinced.  Well, let’s break down the NBA’s Top 5 plays from last night (March 22) from a fitness standpoint.  Maybe next time you go to the gym, you might see how all of the various aerobic and yoga classes, along with the weight area, all come together for players in the modern NBA.

5) Ron Artest, starting small forward for the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, is a 6’7, 260 pound man who sprints three quarters of the length of the court (approximately 70 feet) and takes off toward a 10 foot high hoop to finish a dunk.

This move requires the incorporation of fast twitch muscle fibers for explosion and sprinting, which one can get from doing squats or dead-lifts with a weight bar.

4) Derrick Rose, the starting point guard and leading NBA MVP candidate for the Chicago Bulls, makes a spectacular move in between several Atlanta Hawks players.  He uses his impeccable balance to keep himself from falling forward when stopping on a dime and shooting over the top two larger men.

In a gym, one should move on over to the plyometric classes and check out the same movement Rose does when he jumps and lands softly on his toes to protect his knees.

3) Now, I am always amazed at men and women who are 10 to 15 inches taller than the average size of an American person (5’9 ½ for men; 5’4 for women) and make acrobatic moves in the NBA and WNBA respectively.  This man Marcin Gortat of the Pheonix Suns is 6’11 and 240 pounds, and he makes a spectacular two-handed dunk.  Gortat cannot move like this without a strong core.

Abdominal muscles are important, but core strength extends from the chest to the quads.  Most people would see a person this size and assume that he is clumsy, and they would be partly correct; it takes a lot of work and talent for a person this tall to strengthen their core.  Check out your pilates and yoga classes if you seek core strength like Gortat.

2) CJ Watson puts on a fitness clinic with this move, and he exemplifies why NBA athletes are such breath-taking athletes.  First, his spin requires incredible balance to keep the ball in the play; secondly, his sprint toward the basket demands core stability; finally, his acrobatic play at the basket involves strength, finesse, and skill.

In other words, a person would need to go to the gym, run a mile, sprint ¼ of a mile, lift weights, go to an aerobic class, and then wind down in a yoga class to feel what it would take to perform this series of moves Watson so gracefully accomplishes.

1) Last but not least, we have 7 footer JaVale McGee of the struggling Washington Wizards blocking a shot and keeping the ball in play.  This is such a great move because of the timing that accompanies his athleticism.

Most of the time when people start to fatigue, their brains start to work against them and they lose focus.  It is not uncommon to feel tired, drained, and a decreased sense of training capacity, but the best way to fight through these feelings are by getting adequate sleep.  If you want to perform on a daily basis and have the “presence of mind” like McGee, try to go to bed a few hours before midnight and see how much more energy you have to hit the gym.

I hope you enjoy the rest of the NBA season!

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  1. NBA is nothing but a bunch of arrogant thugs that hate to practice. This sport was once greatbut eventually succumbed to pressure to take the typical urban street rat…

    Baseball and Football are king in America…deal with it!

    • Greg… I think that ”a bunch of arrogant thugs” is a charateristic of football players actually. Basketball player are smarter and more athletic… So, you shouldn’t be talking about sports…

  2. Sorry, but the REAL football wins hands down! For those of you reading this comment, real football is soccer in America. The NBA definitely has some great athletes, but not the fittest. I cannot believe you even mentioned Shaq in an article about fittest athletes. Anyhow, I will take Drogba, C. Ronaldo, Messi, or Rooney on my Team Fitness!

    • @McK10jr: I must agree with you. Real footballers and the absolute best athletes in the world. to be able to play for 90minutes STRAIGHT during a match, no breaks? running back and forth across a field, jumping, lunging and kicking all in the same breath? now THAT is athleticism. as for Shaq… why the hell was he even mentioned? the man huffs and puffs just by running half-court…

  3. Yeah. I agree with the above comments. Footballers (soccer players) are REAL athletes. The sport is SOOOoooo fun to watch. It seems more accessible for a person of average height to participate in, if they actually train properly. With basketball I think that recruiters pass up really good players, for tall people. And as a woman interested in men, I think footballers have the BEST bodies.

  4. Footballers run about seven miles over a period of 90 minutes with a TON of casual jogging thrown in (I guess there are no breaks if you don’t count halftime). It’s impressive but not nearly as impressive as a lot of people try to claim. As minna pointed out, the guys playing it are the size of normal people. NBA guys are just as fast as any soccer player and MUCH larger. Of course they don’t run the same distances but they do more cutting and quick movement on average and there is a lot more jumping and physical contact. Did I mention they averaged just under 6’7″. From a raw athleticism standpoint, Drogba, Mesi, and Rooney can’t hold a candle to guys like Lebron, Blake Griffin, or Dwight Howard in anything but an endurance contest. You’re talking about 250+ pound men with 40 inch vertcals who bench more than 350+ pounds, it’s absurd. This isn’t about what sport you like, it’s about where the most well rounded athletes come from. I get the opinion, it’s not ridiculous, I just think you are talking about normal sized guys doing amazing things vs human giants doing amazing things.

  5. #1…MMA/Boxing , #2…American Football/Rugby, #3… Ice Hockey.

  6. jared is 100 percent correct and for the idiot that said basketball players are all thugs he obviously hasnt heard of dwayne wade, lebron james, chris paul or any other humanitarians in the nba

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